Warm Days in November

Following last week, I headed into this weekend with a little better idea of what Burrsleeves could be.

I recruited two more people and planned to head up to the same park-like area at the base of campus around 10:30am on Saturday. I headed out around 9:30am to stop by Meijer so I could buy some garbage bags and latex gloves. I also stopped by Big Apple Bagels and got a dozen bagels–for anybody who might be helping out. Additionally, I hoped I would run into the two men I spoke with last weekend and share some breakfast with them.

Trash Pick-Up with Nora and Darren
Nora and Darren picking up trash in Kalamazoo

That plan was foiled when I noticed massive crowds of people moving through my neighborhood and towards the downtown area. Turns out, the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade was about to begin—so, of course, Nora and I temporarily abandoned our plans and went down to see various members of the greater Kalamazoo area, drive decorated vehicles and dress up in costumes that varied from gingerbread men, to people actually wearing gift boxes.

And I swear, I didn’t mean to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but it was being blasted by car radios and tooted by marching bands — it’s not my fault! Anyways, we stayed there for a little while and then headed back to my house. I decided with the other conspirator, Darren, that we would go sometime in the afternoon. Well, soon a storm rolled in and I had buried myself in a corner of Upjohn Library so the Burr Sleeves didn’t happen on Saturday.

However, last night, it occurred to me again, that what we are doing is literally the easiest thing ever – so I texted Darren and planned to have the three of us go at 10:30 on Sunday. This morning, that’s exactly what we did. It is almost 70 degrees today – preeetttty dang warm for November in Michigan – but nevertheless, it felt wonderful. The sun was shining and there was plenty of crap lying around that would soon find a home in one of our three garbage bags–and when I say crap, I do not exaggerate: I literally found several abandoned bags of poop. We had fun though, and just 30 minutes later, we had three full bags of trash.

There’s something unique about going out and picking up trash: Whereas other volunteering require you to seek out organizations that have planned events or well defined places to donate money, picking up trash merely requires putting some shoes on, grabbing a bag and heading outside. Especially in Kalamazoo, you can walk out of almost any door and see some garbage to pick up. And the other key thing, it doesn’t actually require that much time. We determined that major public spaces are actually cleaned by city employees, it’s in the periphery that a buildup of possibly years of garbage lies. The periphery can be broadly defined as the edges of public areas,those hard-to-reach areas, the side of the road, or that ambiguous space between what is mine and what is yours. More often than not, we think of things as another person’s responsibility and it is that mentality of “someone else will take care of it” that I want to get rid of.

So on this warm Sunday in November, we picked up a little garbagio and it didn’t take much. Next week we’ll do it again!

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